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against the flames of hell. And how sad will it be, then to know that you are sinners, when you shall likewise know that you are eternally damned for your sins! when your consciences, which are now peaceable and gentle, shall then, on a sudden, rave, and shriek, and fly in your faces; and begin then, but then alas too late! to terrify and affright you, when there is no hope nor possibility of remedy!
Be persuaded, therefore, now to recognize your sins, while there is yet hope. The day of grace is not yet set upon you. Mercy and pardon are yet offered to you: and those sins, which you are convinced of by the strictness of the Law, you may, if you will seek it by true repentance, obtain remission of, through the grace and mercy of the Gospel.
ii. Are all transgressors of the Law? Then here see a Woeful
SHIPWRECK OF THE HOPES AND CONFIDENCES OF ALL SELF-JUSTICIARIES.
Hence learn, that an honest, quiet, civil life, free from the gross and scandalous pollutions of the world, is no sufficient plea for heaven. Yet this alone is that, which the generality, of the ignorant sort especially, rely upon. Their lives are harmless, their dealings just and upright: none can complain that they are wronged by them: and therefore, certainly, if God will save any, they must be of the number.
I heartily wish, that, in these words, I could have personated you: but, truly, I doubt that the most of you are not yet come so far as morality; nor have attained to the honesty of those, who yet shall fall short of heaven.
But, suppose you could really plead this; yet this plea is invalid. For, is there nothing, that you know by yourselves, either relating to God or man, wherein you have offended? Had you never so much as a thought in you, that slipped awry? Have you never uttered a word, that so much as lisped contrary to the Holy Law of God? Did you never do any one action, which purity and innocence itself might not own? Have your lives, in every point, been as strict and holy, as the Law of God commands them to be? If thou darest to affirm this, thou makest not thyself the more innocent thereby, but the more unpardonable; and art a senseless, stupid wretch, for thinking thyself pure and clean. Or if, upon a narrower search, thou findest some miscarriages by thyself, remember thou art yet but at the threshold of thy heart: enter farther into thyself, and thou shalt discover yet greater abominations. However, could it be supposed, that thou art guilty but of one sin, and that one the least that ever was committed: yet this one sin makes thee a transgressor of the Law; and the guilt of it can never be expiated, by anything, which thou canst either do or suffer; but eternal death and wrath must be thy portion, unless the blood of Jesus Christ purge thee from it. iii. See, then, What Absolute Need We All Stand In Of JESUS CHRIST. Not only those amongst us, whose lives have been openly gross and scandalous; but even those, also, who are the most circumspect and careful in their walkings. Though they do not wallow and roll themselves in the common pollutions of the world; yet it is not possible, but that, in so dirty a road, they must be besprinkled, and their garments spatted .with the flesh. Absolute perfection is a state, rather to be wished for, than enjoyed in this life. The utmost we can here attain unto, is, not to commit presumptuous sins; nor to allow ourselves in any, when, through infirmity, we do commit them. But none of our sins, whether of Presumption or of Weakness, whether of Ignorance or against Knowledge, whether the sins of our Thoughts or of our Actions, can be pardoned without the blood of God, and the sufferings of our Almighty Saviour. It is the same pre"°us Wuod, that satisfied God's justice for the adultery and murder of David, the incest of Lot, the perjury of Peter, that must satisfy it likewise for thy vain and foolish thoughts, and rash and idle words, if ever thou art saved. For without blood there is no remission: Heb. ix. 22: and, without remission, there can be no salvation, Acts xxij, 16,
And, indeed, this is one of the great and main ends of giving the Law, that the necessity and all-sufficiency of Christ to save us may be rendered the more conspicuous. Thus, saith the Apostle: Rom. x. 4. Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness, to every one that believeth. The Law was given us, not that we should seek Justification by the observance of it; but, finding it impossible to be justified by fulfilling of it, we should thereby be driven unto Christ's righteousness, who hath both fulfilled it in himself, and satisfied for our transgressing of it. And, therefore, saith the same Apostle, Gal. iii. 24. The Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. To this end was it promulgated, that, seeing the multiplicity and strictness of its commands, the rigour and utter insupportableness of its threatenings; and being, withal, sensibly convinced of our own weakness and impotency to fulfil the commands enjoined, and, thereupon, of our liableness to undergo.the penalty threatened; we might thereby be frighted and terrified, and, as it were, by a schoolmaster, whipped unto Christ, to find that righteousness in him that may answer all the demands of the Law, which in ourselves we could not find. And, whilst we make this use of the Law, we bring it to be subservient to the Gospel.